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Leybourne-Ward, N.
Arltunga: Arid Land Gold Mining Hope and Disaster
Eleventh National Conference on Engineering Heritage: Federation Engineering a Nation; Proceedings
Institution of Engineers, Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2001, pp. 171-175

The Arltunga goldfield in the East MacDonnell Ranges began, as many did before and after, by the chance finding of alluvial gold in 1887 near a place called Paddy's Rockhole, the only water. There was insufficient water for even a small community let alone for sluicing. The miners had to devise a separation method using wind and this was generally called 'dry blowing'. As the population expanded, wells were sunk: some successful, some dry. The source of gold shifted to the crushing of ore at first by hand then by the installation of a crusher in 1896 and by stampers the largest being a 10-header erected by the South Australian Government a year later. Separation of gold from the fines was carried out in the government area by the cyanide process from 1899. Technology was thus well advanced by the turn of the century and the peak in population (a mere 400) occurred in 1903 along with a productivity in excess of 1oz. of gold per ton of ore. The government area became the property of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1911. Management was poor and corruption alleged so the government works were shut down in October 1913.

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